Cyberpunk 2077 Review: A Flawed Masterpiece

My+character+in+the+Arasaka+Heist.

Gordon Tuomikoski

My character in the Arasaka Heist.

Gordon Tuomikoski, Editor-in-Chief

CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 was touted as being one of the most anticipated video games of all time.  The hype was high for the future dystopia, but a rushed launch forced by the publisher left a broken, glitch-filled game for many players. Glitches aside, the game has a masterpiece of a story and is filled with a vibrant, interesting open world.

THE GAMEPLAY:

Combining both RPG (role-play game) and first-person shooter elements, Cyberpunk feels like a modern Fallout or Skyrim in that aspect. Enemies don’t realistically die in a few shots, as they are level based, so boss fights can be quite tough, yet fun. More powerful weapons, measured in damage-per-second, can be found, some with special attributes like incendiary rounds, or others completely vaporizing heads off of enemies. The gameplay also seems to take some inspiration from Watch Dogs, in that you can hack into people or other electronics, and use regenerative points to shut down cameras, explode grenades on enemies, or even light them on fire. Players can upgrade their own abilities with cybernetics. You can gain new hacking upgrades, hidden blades under your arms like the Wolverine, or even the ability to mentally control ‘smart weapons’ which are guns whose bullets intelligently heatsink onto enemies. 

Cyberpunk’s gameplay is very rewarding. It’s satisfying to find rare armor after a tough fight, forever furthering a player’s progression, or an incredibly unique, powerful weapon. It’s impressive how they combined RPG elements into an open world, postmodern set game.

THE WORLD:

The world of Cyberpunk 2077 is the exact opposite of a bright future. Set in a fictional Californian megalopolis known as Night City, mega-skyscrapers fill the skylines while poor, impoverished and crime-ridden communities live at the bottom. The world features a hyper-capitalistic and oversexualized look at what humanity’s future could become. Blatant pornographic and inappropriate ads or holograms line buildings as billboards. Over-the-top obnoxious advertisements fill every corner of the world with bright signs and loud ads blasting through the city streets. 

Poor people spend most of their income on body modification to gain physical appeal, but often they end up getting botched surgeries by inexperienced doctors known as Ripperdocs. Overtly rich celebrities practically burn money while the rest of the city suffers. 

The entire design of the game is heavily inspired by the Blade Runner movies and follows a retro-future look, with 1980s influenced hairstyles, clothing styles, and vehicle designs lining the streets. The game’s theme and setting is rich with lore and history like the Corporate Wars of the early 21st century. Every corner of the map leaves something to explore and thousands of lines of lore text to read.

Night City skyline. (Gordon Tuomikoski)

THE STORY:

Without giving too many spoilers for the heartbreaking and tragic story, the game is a tale of vengeance on a megacorporation known as Arasaka. After a mostly failed heist leaves you with a botched chip in the player’s head from a long-dead terrorist known as Johnny Silverhand. The chip has Johnny’s entire mind and imprint on it, and it slowly is rewriting the character’s brain, leaving the character with two weeks to live. 

A lot of the early story revolves around getting this chip fixed or removed. In the process the player interacts and fights organizations like Militech, the Nomads, gangs like the Valentinos or Scavengers, and drug-addicted maniacs nicknamed cyber-psychos. With many references to other popular dystopian movies and culture, and a rich lore, the storyline is strong and fantastic.

THE GRAPHICS:

Like my previous review of Watch Dogs: Legion, Cyberpunk 2077 takes advantage of Nvidia’s ray tracing lighting technology, allowing the light refraction, shadows, and reflections of the world to look photorealistic. Cyberpunk utilizes ray tracing much better than Watch Dogs did, and it is one of the best implementations of it in a video game thus far. The character models look great, but less realistic than the world at times. The textures are high quality, but they can look a little funny sometimes. While the graphics are great, they aren’t phenomenal, and do look flawed at times, but this is made up for by the great lighting quality. Regardless, the game still looks good, just not as great as people would hope a 2020 game looks like.

THE GLITCHES:

From broken textures, glitched animations, and even entire save files being deleted, Cyberpunk 2077’s launch was rough. Players faced hundreds of bugs and glitches, tainting and ruining the immersion that the great rest of the game otherwise provides. I personally never faced many game-breaking bugs, just the occasional glitched body falling through the ground or a character’s animation defaulting to a t-pose. 

When the game first launched, there was a glitch where if the game’s save file size reached a certain size, the entire save file would corrupt, thus deleting all of the player’s progress. Players review bombed the game due to many of these glitches, understandably, but the game is continuing to be updated and supported by the developers to fix many of these bugs, and bring the game to its true potential.

The raytracted reflections on the streets.

THE VERDICT:

Cyberpunk 2077 is a flawed masterpiece. It could have been one of the greatest games of all time, but it was held back by a rushed launch. With a strong story, fantastic gameplay and a rich, lore-filled open world, the game is phenomenal in these aspects. Unfortunately much of the game feels unfinished. The developers needed another year of development to bring it to its full potential. I hope to see it continue to be updated and fixed, to bring this future classic to its true form.

 

8/10